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Six Homework Hacks That Make Studying Online Easier

Apr 29, 2014 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Online classes aren’t easier than the traditional variety. In fact, many students report more challenging workloads with online education than with classroom assignments. Add to that the fact that many students at accredited online colleges are nontraditional students—busy working professionals and full-time parents—who are dealing with a wealth of distractions at home and at work, it’s no surprise that many students find class assignments a challenge.

However, there are ways you can study smarter—not harder—and get more out of each class. Here are a few essential homework hacks to help you get the most out of limited study time.

Shut off distractions

If you’re easily distracted by the Internet, shut it off. Free apps such as Freedom will let you shut off the Internet entirely for a specified amount of time; this can be invaluable if you have homework to do that doesn’t require online resources. If you do need the web, you can use Self-Control (for Macs only) to block only the websites you want to keep yourself from visiting—like Facebook.

Know yourself

Everyone learns a little differently. Some students learn best by listening; others by writing concepts down. Some students learn best by doing—by applying knowledge in a practical setting, either on their own or in groups. Try several different methods of learning to see which one helps you retain best—and then use it. For instance, if you know you learn best by listening, record yourself reading your notes aloud and then listen to it, rather than reading them over. If you learn best by writing, transcribe online lectures rather than just listening.

Test yourself

It might be old-school, but flash cards are an extremely effective way of cementing something in your mind. Make a series of flash cards that deals with what you’re studying—whether it’s math problems or literature—and test yourself periodically. This will help you keep track of what areas you feel confident in and which topics need further attention.

Teach someone else

Nothing helps you learn a topic like teaching it to someone else. That’s because, to get difficult concepts through to students, you sometimes have to find creative ways to explain those concepts—and explain them in several different ways. This process cements the topic in your own mind as well as theirs. If you’re having trouble understanding or remembering a concept, try teaching it to someone else—a friend, a fellow student, a spouse or child.

Don’t punish yourself

Marathon study sessions and all-nighters might make a good story later, but they’re not a good way of actually learning and retaining a topic. It’s much more effective to break your study sessions up into smaller chunks throughout a day or week, stay on top of your tasks, and not leave challenging assignments until the last minute. 

Choose your space wisely

Avoid studying in distracting places. For many students, the home is a distracting place—you’re close to the television; comfortable couches and beds for napping; and family members with demands that could derail your study time. If that’s the case for you, get out of the house and visit the local library or coffee shop to get your studying done. Scope out areas in your neighborhood that can take you out of distracting environments.

Getting an accredited online degree isn’t easy. But these study suggestions can help you get more out of your study time—and retain information more easily. Learning which study habits work best for you can be invaluable for busy nontraditional students with limited time to study—and who can least afford to leave everything until the last minute and then try to make it up with an epic cram session. Hopefully, as you get more experienced at studying, you’ll learn what techniques are most effective for you—and see your grades rise accordingly.



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